Palembang, South Sumatra (ANTARA News) - Environment Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta has warned of possible forest fires in the forthcoming dry season in June 2011.

"Regional administrations, which areas are often hit by forest fires, should be cautious," State Environmental Affairs Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta said in his opening speech of a coordinating meeting on Sumatran eco-region here, Monday.

He explained that the National Meteorological, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has predicted that rains will fall until April 2011.

"May will begin to be hot and in June onward it will be vulnerable to forest and plantation fires," the minister said.

He, therefore, urged the regional authorities, in cooperation with the agriculture service, to make sure that there would be no land clearing by using slash and burn method.

Setting fire on forest or plantation areas in order to clear land in the dry season, could cause the fire to become out of control, he said.

The Minister also called on the public, rapid reaction unit and Manggala Agni forest firefighting, to be on alert.

A number of provinces on Sumatra and Kalimantan Islands are prone to forest and plantation fires.

Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta opened the coordination meeting of Sumatra eco-region as part of a series of environment coordination meetings to be held in five regions.

The other such coordination meetings will be held in Mataram on March 10-12 for Bali-Nusa Tenggara region, in Yogyakarta on March 21-22 for Java region, Makassar on March 23-24 for Sulawesi-Maluku-Papua region and in Banjarmasin on March 28-29 for Kalimantan region.

The coordination meetings which will focus on communication between the Environment Ministry and regional governments are aimed at accommodating aspirations to manage natural resources and the environment in an optimum and strategic manner.

In addition, the meetings are also designed to get a clear picture of natural resource and environmental management in regions in order to sharpen the focus of environmental management strategy, if needed.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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